Field Trip, Anyone?

Pack your bags if you want to see the moon’s coolest trick in 18 years. Don’t forget your paper shades


A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun, casting a shadow on Earth. A total eclipse results when the darkest part of the shadow touches Earth, blocking the sun entirely [2]. When Earth is farther away, the shadow grows dimmer, causing viewers to see a solar ring around the moon instead of total darkness [1,3].

Need an excuse to sneak down to the sunny Central Pacific this month? Try this one: a chance to witness a rare astronomical event. On April 8, a hybrid solar eclipse will sweep across the Pacific Ocean. Solar eclipses happen at least twice a year, but triple eclipses-in which total and near-total eclipses occur within 24 hours of each other-take place just once every 18 years.

On the big day, stargazers a few hundred miles east of New Zealand will see the moon traverse the sun shortly after sunrise, creating a thin solar ring visible around the moon. (Picture a black dime stacked on top of a yellow nickel.) This phenomenon is known as an annular eclipse. As the moon´s shadow traces Earth´s curvature toward the equator, and the distance between Earth and the moon gets shorter, the shadow grows larger. For local observers, the moon will appear big enough to cover the sun, turning an annular eclipse into a total eclipse. About three hours later, the shadow grows smaller as the moon moves toward South America, where the total eclipse turns back into an annular one. The show ends 18 minutes later, when the eclipse fades away over Venezuela.

If seeing it on paper isn´t enough for you, Discovery World Cruises will float you to an oceanic region near Polynesia (23 42´ south latitude, 130 40´ west longitude, to be specific), where for $3,870 you´ll have the best vantage point to watch the total eclipse.

Miss this sky show and you´re out of luck until 2023, when the next hybrid eclipse will thrill Indonesia.